Yemen: To Go or Not To Go?
Yemen has been on my mind lately with the recent intercepted mail bomb, the attack on the USS Cole and the book, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky in the news. I was scheduled to travel to Aden, Yemen, in 2001 as Senior Assistant Cruise Director on Renaissance Cruises' 50-day sailing from Athens to Bangkok. Prior to our sailing, the USS Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000.
We changed our itinerary and did not go to Yemen; however, our ship did have two ports of call in nearby Oman. Being in Muscat and Salalah during Ramadan was amazing; the gorgeous sand colored 16th century Portuguese forts high on the cliffs, listening to the call of the mosque and trying not to get lost, and the intricate blue tiled mosques with the azure seas made for amazing contrasts. We sailed with a pod of over 100 dolphins, one of the most memorable days in my seven years at sea.
During the port talk about Oman, I stressed the importance of respectful dress, and not drinking or eating in the souks in front of Moslems during their month of fasting.
When CBS World News reported on November 10, 2010 that British police said "a mail bomb intercepted last month at an English airport could have exploded over the East Coast of the United States," Yemen was again front page news due to the potential devastation.
On that same cruise, we also canceled a port call in Colombo, Sri Lanka due to the civil war. This summer, George and I spent six weeks in Sri Lanka and I read Jennifer Steil's The Woman Who Fell From the Sky about her work in Yemen as a journalist.
In the book, Steil remarks that "in many parts of the country, people are living exactly as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. They herd goats and cows; they grow wheat, pomegranates, and grapes; they travel long distances to fetch water. They live in simple square mud-brick homes."Continued on the next page